Illustration of the a girl sitting in fallen autumn leaves
Art by Leslie Stall Widener


A lyrical poem celebrates the pleasures of autumn’s sights and sounds

By Alexander Posey
From the October/November 2021 Issue

Learning Objective: Students will understand the concept of imagery and identify words and phrases that evoke the sights, sounds, and feelings of the fall season.

Other Key Skills: imagery, figurative language, inference, tone, poetry writing
UP CLOSE: Imagery

As you read this poem, look for words and phrases that help you see, hear, and feel an autumn afternoon in your mind.


In the dreamy silence

Of the afternoon, a

Cloth of gold is woven

Over wood and prairie;

And the jaybird, newly

Fallen from the heaven,

Scatters cordial greetings,

And the air is filled with

Scarlet leaves, that, dropping,

Rise again, as ever,

With a useless sigh for

Rest—and it is Autumn.

Courtesy the Oklahoma Historical Society (Alexander Posey); Courtesy of the artist (Leslie Stall Widener)

In the Spotlight

This poem was written by Muscogee poet Alexander Posey (1873-1908). It was illustrated with acrylic paints for Storyworks by artist Leslie Stall Widener, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

This poem was originally published in the October/November 2021 issue.  

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Activities (2)
Quizzes (1)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
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Activities (2) Download All Activities
Quizzes (1)
Answer Key (2)
Answer Key (2)
Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

Table of Contents

1. Preparing to Read

2. Reading and Discussing

    SEL Focus, Discussion Questions

3. Discussing the Poem

4. Skill Building

5. Collaboration Station

6. Can’t-Miss Teaching Extras

1. Preparing to Read

  • Preview the callouts alongside the poem.

  • Read the poem aloud for the class, or have students listen to the Audio Read-Aloud. 

  • Then discuss the poem together by answering the questions that follow. (To answer the questions, it’s helpful for students to number the poem’s lines.)

2. Reading the Poem

  • Preview the callouts alongside the poem.

  • Read the poem aloud for the class, or have students listen to the Audio Read-Aloud (available in your Resources tab). 

3. Discussing the Poem


  • Which lines in the poem evoke—or help you imagine—the sounds of autumn? (imagery) The first line describes the “dreamy silence” of an autumn afternoon. In line 7, the “cordial greetings” of the jaybird refer to its call. And in line 11, the leaves’ “useless sigh” evokes the sound of leaves moving through the air.

  • In line 3, what might “cloth of gold” refer to? Which sense does the line help you imagine using? (figurative language) “Cloth of gold” could refer to the sunlight falling on the wood and prairie. Or it could refer to a carpet of fallen leaves covering the prairie and forest. The line helps you imagine using sight to see the sunlight or fallen leaves.

  • In line 10, what do you think makes the dropping leaves rise again? (inference) The wind makes the leaves rise again.

  • How do you think the poet feels about autumn? Why do you think that? (tone) Sample answer: The poet seems to appreciate autumn. I think that because he describes a very peaceful and inviting autumn scene, with golden sunlight, a singing bird, and falling leaves. It seems he wants to highlight the sights and sounds that make autumn special.


4. Skill Building

Distribute or assign the Poetry Kit, which will take students on a deep dive into the poem. It is available to print or as an interactive slide deck that students can complete digitally.

5. Collaboration Station

Divide students into small groups, and assign each group a season to write a poem about. Ask students to start by brainstorming words and phrases that evoke the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of the season. Then ask them to work together to compose a poem with imagery of their assigned season. Give them time to practice reciting their poems, then have a poetry share in your classroom.

Can't-Miss Teaching Extras
Explore the Storyworks Archive

For Native American Heritage Month, in November, teach this poem along with three other poems in our archive that are written by Native American poets: “Remember” by Joy Harjo, “Fire-Flowers” by Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake, and “Carrying Our Words” by Ofelia Zepeda.

Make a Science Connection

This poem and its illustration help readers appreciate the beauty of autumn’s colorful leaves. But why do the leaves change colors? This jaunty video from SciShow Kids explains the science behind the season’s spectacular colors.

Enjoy Autumnal Poetry

The changing of the seasons serves as inspiration for many poets. Share some more poems about fall from this collection for kids from the Academy of American Poets.